The novels were magical and fun. I still remember some of the lines. In one Oregon Trail romance, the hero told the heroine, “Don’t look at me like you want kissing.” As an elementary schooler, I wanted to know what that expression looked like. Did the heroine have her lips smooshed together and eyes closed? Was she fluttering her eyelashes like Minnie Mouse? If I made that face, would I get kissed?
As a high schooler, my standards might have been a little unrealistic from reading about such swoon-worthy heroes. A boy couldn’t just say, “Wanna hang out?” If he liked me, he needed to chase me across a football field and declare his undying devotion through a megaphone. Most likely in the rain.
At some point I finally learned that love is what my husband calls “friendship set on fire.” I experienced heartache, but I also got to have a romance complete with movie theater proposal, horse drawn carriage, and Hawaiian honeymoon.
After all that, I still love my romance novels. And here are ten reasons why.
1.) The Meet-Cute: This is the moment when the couple first meets. It has to be memorable because these two characters have to remember each other. Will it be love at first sight like it seemed to be in Then There Was You by Kara Isaac…before she threw up on his shoes? Or will you be able to see the train wreck coming, such as Five Days in Skye by Carla Laureano, where the heroine is complaining to the hero about the hero, only she doesn’t know it’s him. These scenes set up a whole dynamic and make us long for more.
2.) The Witty Banter: Oh, it makes my toes curl. It’s like we get to be in on all the inside jokes, and they have us rooting for the couple that should so obviously be together even though they try to deny it. One of the best examples comes from Tamara Leigh’s author heroine in Stealing Adda. She’d just been complimented by her editor on her insight into her male character before he kissed her and claimed it wouldn’t happen again. She was just like, “My insight into male character tells me that it will.”
3.) The Chemistry: Whether they are talking or not, these characters come alive around each other in every way–physically, mentally, spiritually. The other person’s presence changes their behavior because they are so aware of what the other is thinking and feeling. I loved this about Bethany Turner’s Wooing Cadie McCaffrey where Will’s whole intent is to win his girlfriend back by using scenes from her favorite movie. She responds in a less then wooed way that only she could.
4.) The Tropes: These give us a sense of security, and we all have our faves. Some like cowboys, some billionaires, some secret babies, and MANY like marriage of convenience, which even has it’s own abbreviation of MOC now . My personal fave is hidden identities a la Seaside Letters by Denise Hunter or The Cubicle Next Door by Siri Mitchell. This trope also makes You’ve Got Mail and Hitch my favorite movies. It’s like that Friends episode: “They don’t know that we know they know we know.” So much fun.
5.) The Setting: Many romance series are set in small towns that make the reader want to live there or at least feel like they have traveled there. Pepper Basham has a thing for Appalachia. Robin Lee Hatcher sets most her stories in Idaho. Kristin Billerbeck likes California. And if you post a meme about a baby goat, most contemporary Christian romance readers are going to think of Melissa Tagg’s Walker family. The setting adds charm to the experience.
6.) The Supporting Characters: A colorful cast can offer comic relief and even try to steal the show. I loved this about Sarah Monzon’s upcoming Molly who’s heroine is part of a sewing club that dies her hair pink. Then there was Deeanne Gist’s A Bride in the Bargain where an older woman lost her dentures to an overeager seagull, and, for the rest of the story, she’s smacking her gums. These supporting characters keep romance novels from ever having a dull moment.
7.) The First Kiss: First comes the almost kiss and the interrupted kiss. I patiently hold my breath for the real thing, and it’s like I’m reliving the moment where I fell in love with my husband. My favorite kiss ever can be found in Betsy St. Amant’s All’s Fair in Love and Cupcakes, which involves the heroine hanging onto a doorknob to keep from getting swept away by passion.
8.) The Sacrificial Love: The best love stories show a love that’s more than just a kiss, chemistry, and witty banter. These are the ones that clog your throat with tears because it hurts to see a hero willing to let go of a heroine for her own good. I seriously cried so much on my pillow while reading Rekindled by Tamara Alexander that my husband thought I’d fallen asleep and drooled. These kind of stories make us all want to be better people.
9.) The Happily Ever After: You don’t have to worry about recovering from a tragic ending when you read romance. It’s pretty much a requirement that the guy will get the girl and all will be right in the world. Even where there’s more at stake, like SIX KIDS in The Dating Charade by Melissa Ferguson, you know when it’s over, you’re going to feel good and close the book with a happy sigh.
10.) The Bigger Picture: If God is love, you can’t leave him out of a love story. He shows up in all the best romances and helps me understand a little bit more about how I’m already loved more than I can even imagine. This is what had me reading the prologue to Becky Wade’s My Stubborn Heart out loud to multiple people even though I couldn’t do so without crying. This is how Once Upon a Prince by Rachel Hauck made a relationship with God seem so much more real than a fairy tale. This is the stuff that changes lives.
These are all things that I think about when writing my own stories. I want to make reading them as impactful for you as my reading has been for me. You’re welcome to come chat about this and more in my facebook group, or you can continue this discussion in the comments section by answering the question below.
What do you love most about Christian romance?